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Three who made a difference – Lifestyle – Gaston Gazette

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There are many environmentalists who are making a difference in our world today. In celebration of Black History Month I’d like to tell you about three people who had done just that. I will be citing an article written for ThoughtCo.com by Jenn Savage.

Dr. Warren Washington is a senior scientist with the National Center for Atmospheric Research who is credited with creating computer models that have been extensively used internationally to document and understand climate change, well before this “hot button” issue was accepted by the world.

He (and other fellow scientists at National Center for Atmospheric Research) was awarded the 2007 Nobel Peace Prize for this research.

Another notable African-American super-star is Lisa P. Jackson who served as the head of the Environmental Protection Agency from 2009 through 2013.

Her focus was on preventing the environmental abuse that can occur to vulnerable groups like low-income, children and elderly who are sometimes voiceless in the corporate world.

Jackson went to college at Tulane University on a scholarship provided by Shell Oil Company, and pursued her love of chemical engineering, She received her masters at Princeton University and entered into service with the EPA in 1987 as a staff level engineer.

She rose through the ranks, working with Superfund clean-up projects and after 16 years with the EPA, took on the lead position with New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection. She continued to review projects and issues with low-income areas and was successful in resolving many inherent problems.

She is currently the environmental director for Apple, overseeing efforts to minimize Apple’s impact through use of renewable energy and energy efficiencies, the use of green materials and inventive processes to conserve resources.

Shelton Johnson has to be a personal favorite as he has served as a park ranger with the National Park Service at Yellowstone National Park for 22 of his 28 year career.

He was born in Detroit, and at age 5, lived in Germany where his dad served in the U.S. Army. His family vacationed in the Bavarian Alps and other local forests and mountain ranges. He was in awe of the mountains and sky.

He graduated from The University of Michigan and spent time in West Africa with the Peace Corps where he taught English. Upon his return, he completed a Master’s Degree, and decided to reach back to his love of the natural world and applied for a park ranger position.

His ability to story-tell and communicate with all people provided the vehicle for him to share his love of the natural world with visitors from all over the world.

He was particularly well versed in the stories of the Buffalo Soldiers, legendary African American army regiment that helped to patrol the parks in the early 1900’s.

He received the National Freeman Tilden Award, the highest award for interpretation in the national park Service in 2009. He was an advisor to Ken Burns’ PBS documentary film “The National Parks, America’s Best Idea” and also had on-camera comments.

In 2010, he invited Oprah Winfrey to visit the park and was her personal guide and expert for her first-ever visit to the park. If you haven’t had the opportunity to visit this amazing wonder of our country, find a way to get there and experience this amazing earthly gift. We have been there in the summer and winter, and it remains an all-time favorite experience.

Nan Kirlin is recycling coordinator for Gaston County.



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